“A wise man turns chance into good fortune.”
— Thomas Fuller
Eight days earlier, on his home turf, Coast Union’s quarterback had the football stripped from his hands three times in crucial situations — and it helped cost the team a stinging 50-48 defeat.
But Saturday, at Dunn School in Los Olivos, with less than two minutes remaining and the game on the line, quarterback Angel Avina turned last week’s tribulation into this week’s triumph.
The Dunn Earwigs — trailing 39-34 — had momentum and had driven the ball to within 25 yards of a winning score when the 5-foot, 9-inch Avina leaped high in the muggy air, making a sensational interception of an Earwig pass that saved the game.
“Great players play their best in the big games,” said Coast Union head coach Charlie Casale. It was indeed a “big game,” because losing two in a row is not a formula for getting into the postseason party.
“Angel brings a lot of positive energy to the team,” Casale added.
Avina also brings a well-rounded repertoire that includes accurate passing (he hit on 12 of 18 passes for 172 yards), reliable rushing (he carried the ball 14 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns), and gritty defense (he had three solo tackles).
Avina wasn’t alone among those making huge contributions to Coast Union’s victory. The team is now 4-1 thanks as well to the versatility of senior Oscar Catalan, whose booming kickoffs and punts consistently sail beyond the opponents’ goal line. Catalan also booted three extra points and led the team with four solo tackles.
Sophomore Lane Sutherland plowed into — and scurried around — defenders all game, racking up 120 yards on 19 carries and scoring a touchdown. He also chipped in with three solo tackles.
Senior Quinten Rathke, who played two sports (basketball and baseball) before this season, grabbed six of Avina’s darts for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Six-foot 8-inch senior Ryder Sebring also had a good day on defense, making three solo tackles, and senior Juan Leonardo used his blazing speed to pick up 34 yards on four carries.
Meanwhile, the Coast Union guys in the trenches — including Grant Magnuson, Chuy Nunez, Alex De Alba, Brian Loredo — made major contributions to the victory. Casale said his line “ wore them down in the fourth quarter and knocked them off the ball.”
One aspect of Coast Union’s play that could use some improvement is tackling. Particularly in the first half, Bronco defenders were grabbing at Earwigs’ ball carriers but not bringing them down. On one play a Dunn runner slithered through the arms of at least five would-be Bronco tacklers, resulting in a huge gain.
“We must continue to work on wrapping up when tackling,” Casale said. “We are hitting them hard but not wrapping our arms around the ball carriers.”